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When it comes to consumers’ preferred brands, tough choices are being made. Some 60% of consumers seek less expensive alternatives when their favorite brands reach a price beyond their budget.

Inflation shifts grocery purchasing behavior for U.S. consumers

U.S. consumers are feeling the crush of inflation, and it’s affecting the way they shop.


  • 66% of consumers are more mindful of spending on groceries 
  • 85% of Americans are “concerned” or “very concerned” about inflation 
  • 58% believe the cost of living will be more expensive in the coming year 
  • 46% of consumers say they’re buying fewer non-essentials 
  • 43% seek out sales and promotions to afford their favorite brands 

A majority of U.S. consumers say their family has changed how they buy food with prices on the rise, according to a new consumer sentiment survey on inflation commissioned by advertising consultant NCSolutions. 

Some 76% of U.S. consumers say their food buying habits have shifted, and nearly half (45%) feel like they can’t afford their previous lifestyle.  

In addition, two-thirds (66%) are more mindful of how they are spending their money.  

The data also indicates that a vast majority (85%) are “very concerned” or “extremely concerned” when it comes to inflation. On the same economic theme, over half (57%) are concerned about the country’s financial situation, while 47% say they’re concerned about their family’s financial situation.  

Eight out of 10 or 83% of Americans expect the cost of living will become “somewhat more” or “much more” expensive in the coming year. Sixty-five percent of Americans agree with the statement “my income has not increased as fast at the cost of food, beverage and personal care products.” 

“For the second time in a little over two years, consumers are pivoting to new purchasing behaviors at the grocery store,” said Alan Miles, CEO, NCSolutions, in a statement. “Since the start of the pandemic, they've been swapping their favorite brands for what's available. Today, though, value is the centerpiece more often than availability, consumers are selecting brands and products to stretch their budgets as far as possible. CPG brands that meet customers where they are both in this inflationary moment and as prices ease have the best shot at keeping them for the long-term.” 


The data, which reflects the buying trends of consumers for CPG products, shows an almost 13% price increase on average. In a six-year price trend analysis, price increases in 2022 are pacing at an accelerated rate compared to other years. The survey findings bear this out with 58% of consumers believing the cost of living will be much more expensive in the coming year and 71% feeling the U.S. economy is declining.  

On a consumer-packaged goods category level, there are wide variations in percentage increases. 

Compared to just one year ago, six in 10 Americans now believe CPG product packaging has gotten smaller but costs the same. Consumers still feel the strain of supply chain issues as 69% say there are fewer items of the same product on the shelves. Thirty-six percent of Americans said there is less variety of brands available on the shelf today compared with one year ago. 

Over half (53%) of American consumers say they find basic food staples more expensive; 40% believe a recession will occur in 2023. For almost half of consumers (46%), this means buying fewer non-essential items on the food aisle, or for 43%, it means buying only the essentials. Seventy-one percent of Americans say the increased price of groceries is straining their savings. For other American consumers, increased prices on the grocery aisle mean seeking out less expensive brands (45%). Other ways consumers are coping with the increased price of groceries are loading up the pantry (27%) or freezer (26%) or shopping closer to home (24%). 

When it comes to consumers’ preferred brands, tough choices are being made. Sixty percent of consumers seek less expensive alternatives when their favorite brands reach a price beyond their budget. Forty-six percent of consumers plan to go without their favorite brands, and 43% of consumers look for sales to offset the cost.



Survey respondents were also asked, “When shopping for groceries, which products are most important?” The majority ranked: 

  1. Affordable products that provide a clear value for my money  
  2. Finding food products that feed their families for several meals 
  3. Products they know their families will enjoy eating 
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